Piedmont is rich in gastronomic traditions, home to great Barolo wines, pungent cheeses and the famous white truffles of Alba, yet with a natural beauty and lush countryside that is ideal for exploring on foot. Our walking tour in Piedmont goes through a landscape of perfectly ordered vineyards and hazy rolling hills, then on to the romantic Italian Lakes and tiny cobblestoned villages, sampling the very best of this intriguing domain.
|•||Romp through the woods on a truffle hunt with an expert trifulau and his trusty dog, and enjoy an earthy lunch of truffles shaved over buttery tagliolini|
|•||Walk through vineyards to imposing castles, and visit the grand Racconigi hunting lodge of the Savoy dynasty, where 40 servants staffed the kitchen|
|•||Boat across lovely Lake Orta, hike up Mottarone mountain, and take a spectacular cable car down to Lake Maggiore and our historic Hotel Regina|
|•||Swoon with pleasure as you drink powerful red wine in Barolo, and sample pungent Castelmagno cheese aged in a dark mountain cave|
|•||Go to the Truffle Fair in Alba, Italy’s showcase for exquisite white truffles (autumn departures only)|
Read about this trip in Ensemble Vacations Magazine.
|Fields & Vineyards|
We rendezvous in the great city of Turin, once the aristocratic capital of the Savoys. Our first stop is the castle of Racconigi, a relatively modest hunting lodge from the Savoy dynasty, where a mere 40 servants staffed the kitchen. Continue to the porticoed town of Cherasco, where we lunch at a local trattoria, and follow that up with a stop in the town’s historic chocolate shops. At last it’s time to take an 8 km (5 mile) walk winding through the hills, where our efforts are rewarded with great views. We continue through the vineyards with just a hint of an appetite returning as we reach our hotel, a lovely inn perched in the town of La Morra. Lovingly decorated with exquisite taste, this secret haven will be our home for three nights. We dine this evening in a renowned restaurant.
|Pasta al Tartufo|
We visit the lofty castle of Serralunga, with its soaring tower offering an amazing lookout, before beginning our 14 km (8.5 mile) walk. Our route meanders through well-tended hazelnut groves and chestnut woods before reaching the hilltown of Monforte, with glorious views of the surrounding hills. After lunch we continue on to the famous wine town of Barolo, producer of the heady rich wine of the same name, where even the town’s castle has been turned into a wine cellar. Free night for strolling in town with dinner on your own.
We are joined this morning by a local trifulao (truffle hunter) who, accompanied by his faithful dog, guides us through hazelnut woods in search of the elusive truffle - black or white, depending on the season. Following our hunt, we'll be rewarded with a delicious tartufi-flavored lunch. We continue our walk through the vineyards near the town of La Morra. Later, for October departures, we'll visit the Alba Truffle Fair, with the heady perfume of the prized white truffle permeating the town. This evening we’re treated to a delicious family-style meal in a local trattoria.
Our 8 km (5 mile) walk begins in the cobblestoned village of Neive and follows the chalky hills to the town of Barbaresco, where we tour the cellars with a wine expert. After lunch we drive north to the Italian Lakes region to the charming town of Orta San Giulio, replete with fanciful wrought iron balconies and charming cobblestoned streets. Take an optional 5 km (3 mile) walk up narrow back streets to the sanctuary of Sacro Monte, or simply relax by the pool. Our home for two nights is a 4-diamond hotel with lovely lakeside terraces. We dine tonight in a friend’s restaurant renowned for its excellent pasta and silky sweet panna cotta.
|Isola di San Giulio, Lake Orta|
This morning we take a boat across Lake Orta to the tiny village of Corconio with its pastel-painted houses and softly fading frescoes. Our delightful 15 km (9 mile) walk follows a system of ancient mule tracks that connect undiscovered villages far removed from the vestiges of tourism, and we stop along the way for a generous picnic lunch. Free night for dinner.
Today we embark on a 14 km (8.5 mile) walk that winds up to the top of Mottarone, with a dazzling view of both Lake Orta and Lake Maggiore. On clear days, you can see the Alps! After a well-deserved lunch of polenta con gorgonzola, we take a spectacular cablecar down to the town of Stresa. Tonight we bask in the luxury of a welcoming lakeside hotel on Lake Maggiore, with splendid gardens and a pool. We celebrate our week with a magnificent dinner, accompanied by the few piemontesi wines we have yet to taste.
A short transfer to the Stresa train station by 9:30 am. Arrivederci!
*Truffle hunter photograph by Mauro Rosso